Chef Chris Warsow, of Bell Flavors & Fragrances, discussed flavor trends and doing business in the flavor industry during an interview with one of Prepared Foods’ editors.--Eds.PF: What is your background and current position?
CW:I have both a food science and culinary arts background. I have been working as a chef in the ingredient side of the business for four years, after spending 14 years on the lines of various restaurants. I received my AAS in culinary arts from Schoolcraft College in Livonia, Mich., and my BS and MS in food science from Michigan State University. I am currently employed by Bell Flavors and Fragrances in Northbrook, Ill., a global manufacturer of quality flavors and extracts for the world of food and beverage.

PF: Describe the new Savory Applications Lab at Bell.
CW: Today, customers are relying on us more for delivering the flavor ingredients, as well as developing the application and recipes alongside of what their in-house chef wants. That is why Bell developed the Savory Applications Lab--it acts as both showcase for our talents and a useful tool for development of applications. Whereas, most people think of Bell associated mostly with sweet flavors or fruit; in actuality, our largest-growing flavor segment is with savory flavors.

PF: Where do you think current trends are heading?

CW: I think there is a second coming of fusion food that will bring more authenticity than the fusion food trend we had a few years ago. I am seeing a lot of popularity of Latin American and Mexican flavors; however, not Tex-Mex style foods, but more origin-oriented Mexican, such as recipes that characterize the Yucatan, Puebla or Vera Cruz areas. For example, a recipe that would characterize the Yucatan would beCochinita pibil(pork) flavored withachiotewith notes of cinnamon, allspice and garlic. Puebla is well-known for being the origin of the Mexican national dish: mole. In a typical molé from Puebla, there can be as many as 25 different ingredients such as chilies, chocolate, oregano and marjoram. On the other hand, Vera Cruz and other areas in Mexico around the ocean tend to be heavily influenced by seafood.

Mediterranean cuisine seems to also be attracting a lot of popularity. However, again, recipes in this case are more origin-specific, such as those from North Africa, Morocco, Southern Spain and the Middle East. All these regions are characterized by complex spice blends. These recipes are nice, because they have a lot of flavor, without some of the negative nutritional aspects--such as fat and, in some cases, salt.

PF: If a company wants to work with you and Bell to develop a recipe, what is the typical process?

CW: Generally, I am put in touch with our clients through requests from our sales department. I will then get in touch with the company and usually begin talking with their in-house chef to get an idea of what they want. I then will go on the road and visit the company, or in some cases, they will come here to the applications lab, and I will give a presentation and allow them to sample each of the presented recipes. We have fun!

--Kerry Hughes, Contributing Editor

For more information:
Bell Flavors & Fragrances • Northbrook, Ill.
Mike Natale • 847-291-8336